1. Don’t hoard it.
Despite the insane amount of chemicals in American food, it will eventually go bad / get freezer burn / be infested with bugs.
2. If at first you don’t like a fellow expat, try and try again.
In a couple years, you may be the only two left in town. Or on a future international relocation, you could find yourselves neighbors again.
3. Call your Mom.
You never know when Skype will be blocked in your country.
4. BFF is spelled REESES.
True friendship is sharing your candy stash from the US. (Or Dunkin Donuts coffee, or maple sausage, or…)
5. Be patient with the Newbies.
We’ve all been there – not knowing whether or how to bleach our vegetables, greet a vendor appropriately or wear traditional Senegalese clothing. But as we adapt, it’s easy to forget how clueless (and at times unintentionally offensive) we once were. Be patient with new arrivals and extend them grace.
6. Get comfortable.
That may mean assimilate into the culture to the max, or it may mean find your home community bubble. Odds are good though that it’s finding the balance between the two that will allow you to thrive in a culture that is not your own.
7. Leave it better than you found it.
Even small investments in a community can change lives.
8. Be the mule.
Expats are always looking for a way to get stuff from the US over to their new home. Sometimes it’s a renewed credit card or a repaired laptop, other times it’s a car part or urgently needed medication. In any case, you will at some point be asked to carry whatever it is over in your suitcase (or worse… your carry-on). Say yes if you can, because at some point YOU will be the one in need of a mule.
9. Always keep learning.
Always. Toujours. Bës bu nekk.
“Everyone you meet has something to teach you.”
— Wolof proverb
(Just kidding. My Google results listed with multiple sources for this quote.)